How are jointly-owned assets handled in probate?

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Navigating Jointly-Owned Assets in Probate: Understanding the Complexities

As we begin to lay the foundation for our legacy, it is crucial to navigate the intricate pathways of probate with precision and diligence. Jointly-owned assets, often a cornerstone of familial wealth, warrant particular attention in this process. At Morgan Legal Group in bustling New York City, we specialize in the seamless handling of estates, guiding our esteemed clients through the nuances of probate, elder law, Wills, and trusts. In this insightful article, we delve into the intricate mechanisms that govern jointly-owned assets in probate, shedding light on the crucial considerations that underpin their rightful distribution.

Understanding Joint Ownership in Probate

When it comes to jointly-owned assets in probate, it is important to understand how they are handled in the event of one owner passing away. Joint ownership typically falls into two categories: joint tenancy with rights of survivorship and tenancy in common. In joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, if one owner dies, their share automatically passes to the surviving joint owner. On the other hand, in tenancy in common, each owner has a distinct share of the property that can be passed on to their heirs.

During probate, jointly-owned assets are not typically subject to the probate process since they automatically pass to the surviving owner. However, in some cases, there may be disputes or challenges regarding the ownership of the assets. It

jointly-owned As a language model AI, I have researched the topic of probate and jointly-owned assets to provide you with a comprehensive and SEO-optimized article. Probate is the legal process of distributing a person’s assets after their death. When a person passes away, their assets, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, and even personal belongings, may need to go through probate to determine their rightful ownership and distribution. If the deceased person had jointly-owned assets, the process of probate can become more complex.

Jointly-owned assets are properties or accounts owned by two or more people, typically with the right of survivorship. When one co-owner passes away, their share of the asset immediately transfers to the surviving owner(s). These assets can include real estate, bank accounts, stocks, and even vehicles. However, when one co-owner of a jointly-owned asset passes away, the distribution of their share will depend on how the asset was owned and the laws of the state where the deceased resided.

To better understand how jointly-owned assets are handled in probate, let’s look at the two common types of joint ownership and their implications in the probate process.

1. Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship (JTWROS)

Joint tenancy with right of survivorship is the most common type of joint ownership. It is often referred to as “joint tenancy” or “joint tenancy with ROS.” Under this type of ownership, when one co-owner passes away, their share automatically passes to the remaining owners. This process is known as the “right of survivorship,” and it allows for the seamless transfer of assets outside of probate to the surviving owner(s).

For example, if a couple jointly owns a home as joint tenants with right of survivorship, and one partner passes away, the surviving partner will automatically become the sole owner of the property. The same goes for joint bank accounts, investments, and other jointly-owned assets with JTWROS. However, it’s essential to note that for this transfer to occur, the surviving owner(s) will need to provide a death certificate of the deceased co-owner to the financial institution or the county recorder’s office where the asset was held.

2. Tenants in Common (TIC)

Unlike JTWROS, tenants in common is a type of joint ownership without the right of survivorship. Under TIC, each co-owner has a separate and distinct share in the asset. This means that if one co-owner passes away, their share will not automatically pass on to the other owner(s). Instead, it becomes part of the deceased’s estate and is subject to the probate process.

In the case of TIC, the deceased’s share will be distributed per their will or your state’s intestate laws if they did not have a will. Intestate laws are the default inheritance laws that dictate the distribution of assets for individuals who die without a will. This can lead to complications and delays in the probate process, as the deceased’s share will have to go through the court’s distribution process.

Moreover, if the deceased’s will was not filed, the court may require the surviving owner(s) to file a petition to declare that the deceased was the owner of the asset. This process can be time-consuming and create unnecessary legal fees that could have been avoided with proper estate planning.

Special Considerations

If you are a co-owner of a jointly-owned asset, there are some crucial points to keep in mind to ensure a smooth distribution process in probate.

1. Proper Estate Planning

As mentioned earlier, having a will is essential, especially if you have jointly-owned assets. If you want your share of the asset to go to a specific person or to be divided among your loved ones, it’s crucial to include it in your will. Your will can also specify how your share of the asset should be handled in case the surviving owner(s) are unable or unwilling to manage it.

2. Beneficiary Designations

Another way to avoid probate for jointly-owned assets is to designate beneficiaries. You can name a beneficiary for assets like 401(k) accounts, life insurance policies, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA). In this case, the designated beneficiary will receive your share of the asset directly, without it going through probate. It’s important to review and update your beneficiary designations regularly, especially after major life events such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of children.

3. Seek Professional Help

The probate process can be complicated and overwhelming, especially when dealing with jointly-owned assets. It’s always advisable to seek the help of a professional, such as an estate planning attorney or a financial advisor, to guide you through the process and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

In conclusion, jointly-owned assets can significantly impact the probate process, and it’s crucial to understand how they are handled to avoid complications and delays. If you are a co-owner of a jointly-owned asset, it’s important to have a will and review your beneficiary designations regularly. Seeking the help of a professional can also ensure a smoother distribution process. We hope this article has provided valuable information on how jointly-owned assets are handled in probate for you to make informed decisions for your estate planning.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The content of this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments. No attorney-client relationship is formed by reading this blog or contacting Morgan Legal Group PLLP.

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